The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (14:47): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Treasurer questions about land tax.
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: The government undertook consultation on a draft bill which closed in early October. Following this, the government introduced their land tax bill. However, yesterday, the government announced further changes to the bill.
My questions are:
1. What submissions did the government consider in amending their draft bill?
2. Who did the government consult with, which resulted in yesterday's announced changes?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:47): I have partially answered that question in response to the Leader of the Opposition but I am happy to expand on that particular reply. The government received about 192 submissions on the Your Say website. I think about 20 or 30 of those were substantive submissions—that is, they were more than a one-page email—and most of those came from stakeholder groups and other representative groups.
In addition to that, the government continued to consult with individuals. For example, there might have been an individual who was a member of the Master Builders association, or the Property Council or HIA, who took the opportunity to either meet with me or the Premier or other members of parliament. I can say I didn't refuse a meeting with any individual from the June budget through to today in relation to listening to their concerns in relation to the land tax bill.
In many cases, they had individual suggestions as to how they believed the bill might be improved. As I said, I didn't refuse a meeting with any critic of the government's—or indeed any supporter of the government—in relation to the proposed land tax bills. As I said, many of them had individual suggestions which didn't necessarily carry the imprimatur of their representative organisations; they were their own views in relation to how the bill might be improved for the better.
As the minister responsible I considered all those submissions, and there are a significant number of what I would call technical and drafting amendments that have been incorporated into the final bill, as I am sure the member and his staff would have already noticed. We have met on at least one or two occasions to look at the detail of the bill, and the honourable member and his staff have asked detailed questions about the reasons for further drafting changes.
Many of those were to confirm the policy intent of the government. Lawyers and accountants and others have said, 'Well, if this is the policy intent you need to draft it differently or improve the drafting in this particular way.' In relation to other substantive issues, there was a whole range of suggestions, as the member will know, from delaying everything until after revaluation, grandfathering, all the new provisions, reducing the top land tax rate down to 1.5 per cent, increasing the threshold to $3 million or $10 million or $11 million. All those were suggestions put either to myself or to other representatives of the government.
They were all considered, and in the end the cabinet, the party room, considered the amendments now being publicised. That is, to essentially provide further relief to, in particular (although it will assist many others), those smaller mum and dad investors who have total site values of between $1.1 million and $1.6 million.
As the honourable member and others have highlighted, with increasing property values people who may have owned three or four properties in Newton 20 or 30 years ago, when the total site values may have been well beneath the then upper limit of $1 million, are now sometimes comfortably above $1 million with exactly the same properties. The most recent change has actually provided additional benefit to them, because the land tax rate drops from 2.4 per cent to 2.0 per cent for those people.
Some of those people will have seen the potential benefit drop from, under the Labor government, 3.7 per cent down to 2.4 per cent in the penultimate package the government proposed and now, ultimately, to 2.0 per cent. In some cases they will see almost a halving of the land tax rate that applies. So it is completely wrong for people to suggest that the changes announced in the last 24 hours provide the greatest benefit to the tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars property holders. It provides particular benefit to those smaller mum and dad investors with site values between $1.1 million and $1.6 million.
In the broad, that is the range of organisations and individuals consulted. Ultimately it was my responsibility, as minister, to then present to cabinet and the party room my recommendations as to what the government might be prepared to do, given the state of the state's finances. That was the background to the announcements yesterday.